Endorsements  -  Sample Chapter  -  Table of Contents

Without warning, you can lose a loved one, a marriage, a home, your health or youth. This loss changes your life forever. It can also undermine your hope for the future and even your trust in God. Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again is a warm and honest book of meditations that reminds you that God understands the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual turmoil of grief. It specifically addresses unspeakable losses for which women are not responsible and over which they have little control. Weaving real-life illustrations with uplifting quotes, meaningfully worded prayers, and Scripture, Kari shows you that you are not alone in what you are experiencing and compassionately invites you "to take time to sort through what you have lost and what you have left." This book will inspire you to believe that, in time and with your cooperation, you too can cultivate a life after loss. Its creatively designed format includes space to journal along with helpful Topical and Resource Indexes with contact information for many needs such as chronic illness, sudden death, suicide, grief support, etc.



What others are saying about
Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again


  Anyone who has suffered severe grief will discover that God does indeed comfort and heal the broken hearted. With authenticity and sincere honesty, Kari takes us through the stages and agony of the heartbreak she and others have experienced. Her prayers, quotes and scriptures direct you to God and give you encouragement, hope, and courage. We recommend it to anyone experiencing grief.

Dr. Archibald Hart and Kathleen Hart

  Dr. Hart is currently Professor of Psychology and was formerly the Dean of the Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Kathleen is Chaplain to student wives at Fuller. Together, they minister to pastors and their spouses throughout the United States and in various parts of the world. He is author of Helping Children Survive Divorce and The Anxiety Cure.

  Kari West has written a warm and honest book about loss. Written to women who have suffered brokenness and want to heal, she invites them to dare to begin a journey of self-reflection and courageous decision-making. This book provides a wonderful first step in that process. Writing short chapters, using many illustrations, and quoting superb writers, she welcomes readers with an approachable style and challenges them to explore what has happened to their lives, what they truly believe about God, and where they are going in the future. Readers will find it helpful and hopeful.

Gerald L. Sittser is professor of religion at Whitworth College, Spokane, Washington; and the author of A Grace Disguised and The Will of God As a Way of Life.

  In describing this book, words like "insightful," "poignant," "compassionate," "graceful" come to mind. With the skill of an artist, Kari West illustrates her understanding of the pain of loss while encouraging her readers to find the hope that is available to those who persist in seeking out the Lord. As you read, be prepared to ask repeatedly: "How did she know that about me?"

Les Carter, Ph.D.
Counselor, The Minirth Clinic and author of The Anger Management Workbook

  Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again is written by a lady who has been there in allowing pain and loss to deepen her loving heart, sensitize her listening ear, and communicate in compassionate words. I recommend this work as a most helpful guide for women "living with losses of the heart." These 84 vignettes provide the reader with places to enter and receive hope and guidance amid many common life struggles. This book is also helpful for men who desire to better understand the heart of a woman's pain and loss.

Filbert Moore, Jr., D. Ministry
PastorCare, The National Clergy Support Network, Raleigh, North Carolina

  Kari has done it again! Once again, she draws deeply from her well of experiential wisdom--offering helpful insights and meaningfully worded prayers in a creatively designed format that invites readers to take one chapter a day for a total of twelve weeks and gently leads them from the pain of personal loss to hopeful anticipation of how our loving Father will "work all things together for good." I recommend Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again to both students and clients.

Dr. Gary Strauss is an Associate Professor at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, La Mirada, California

Print and Broadcast Media:

  Everyone wants a 1, 2, 3 quick and easy solution to loss and grief. Kari West has written it, but it's not quick and it's sure not easy. To help it happen, you must read Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again. You will never be the same! It will give you wise counsel on what to do next and how to get beyond being stuck. This is the book you must be reading when you stand in line at the grocery store and when you get into bed at night. It will help you believe that you are not alone and that you will get better.

Dr. Karen Hayter
Former host and producer of Cope, a nationwide call-in television program

  There may not be a short-cut through grief, but there is a guarantee that it can lead to trust and hope when you read this book. Kari West dares us to find health and wholeness. They're yours page after page. This is a dare with a guarantee. Worked for me!

Phyllis Wallace
Host of radio's "Woman to Woman" show
Envoy Productions

 We can't control when hurts and disappointments come our way, but we can control how we respond. Kari West has learned that hope and trust are the keys to overcoming sorrow and to looking forward to a bright tomorrow. In a fresh, creative way, she shows readers how to find this resource through their faith in Christ.

Dr. Lynda Hunter is an author, radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist and founding editor for Focus on the Family's Single-Parent Family magazine.

Sample Chapter


1. This is not how I planned my life

I am worn out from sobbing.
Every night tears drench my bed;
my pillow is wet from weeping.
My vision is blurred by grief.
--Psalm 6:6-7

  You have lost something or someone very dear to you. The tears won't stop. The pain won't go away. Whenever loss happens and whatever you lose, unspeakable anguish becomes your constant companion.

  It can happen with a telephone call from an emergency room. Or a divorce summons left in your mailbox. Maybe it happened to you when the doctor said, "Let's talk." Or the baby you just delivered never cried. Perhaps the company downsized, your job was the first to go, then your savings, and now your house. Or, after spending a night in a shelter, you awoke to the unbelievable horror that the hurricane had struck, demolishing everything you owned.

  Part of you is numb; the other part, frantic. You detest feeling fragile and you dislike being needy. But you're coming apart at the seams. This is not how you planned your life.

  Until now, loss was something that happened to the other person. Perhaps like many of us, you denied its existence by editing it from your life. Unconsciously, you tried to protect yourself by maintaining a comfortable distance from that divorcee next door or that friend battling cancer.

  Now you know. This is not how any of us plan our lives. When you least expect it, things happen that can wipe out fields of lavender and years of dreams. Like it or not, loss is an integral part of being human. Loss is the risk you take for living and loving.

  People often say that time heals our grief. Yet time cannot bandage our deepest emotional and spiritual wounds, mend a broken heart, or repair the deep tearing of the soul. Time only provides the room within which you heal. Time is a gift of sacred space. Each day comes packaged with precious pauses and never-to-be-seen-again moments.

  Embrace this sacred space even though it feels awfully empty right now. Don't be afraid. You will not stay stuck here. Your God specializes in what concerns you. He knows that no two losses are the same. Psalm 35:18 says, "...he rescues those who are crushed in spirit." He is the healer. In time, you'll see.

  Prayer Pause: Heavenly Father, I am shaken to the core. I'm not sure that I can face what lies ahead. I don't know what to do next--or even what to say. The only language I have right now is my tears.

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.
--Thomas La Mance


50. I didn't deserve this

  O God, you have ground me down and devastated my family.
You have reduced me to skin and bones--as proof they say, of my sins...
My eyes are red with weeping; darkness covers my eyes.
Yet I am innocent and my prayer is pure.
--Job 16:7, 8, 16-17

  You don't want to dig too deep in Susan Howard's garden. It is where she buries her troubles and battles her anger. If anyone understands how Job dared to question God and why he cursed his life, Susan does. Two years ago she lost her eldest son. But that's only part of her story.

  In the early years of her marriage to Rick, both of Susan's parents died, her brother-in-law was killed in a shooting accident, and she gave birth to two son with cystic fibrosis. "This disease is progressive, long, and tiring," says Susan. "At both Morgan's and Loren's births, my husband and I agreed that the only way we could survive was to keep things as normal as possible."

  Two years ago Susan was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but doctors advised her to delay chemotherapy because of stress over her son's upcoming surgery. Morgan was scheduled for a living donor lung transplant--one lobe from a teacher, the other from his dad. After the procedure, the endotracheal tube came loose. Morgan went into cardiac arrest and had a stroke. She says, "This should not have happened!"

  Moran was neurologically damaged from oxygen deprivation to the brain and required additional procedures. With Rick also in the hospital as a donor-patient, Susan bore the load of breaking the news to him and Loren, and consulting with the physicians. For four weeks, she hobbled along the corridors with an elephant leg on her left side and enlarged lymph nodes in her groin--painful reminders of the growing lymphoma. Refusing to leave her son, she lived in the waiting room, bathroom, and her car. But Morgan never left the hospital. He was twenty-three years old when he died.

  "I would give anything to hear him cough again," says Susan. "If you're the mother, it affects you differently than it does the father, because you carried this child inside you. I told God, 'I don't' want to be here anymore. Take me instead.'"

  A year later Susan entered into chemotherapy, but her hoped-for spontaneous remission never came. She speaks of that time as one of unrelenting grief and overwhelming fatigue. She admits there were days when she raised her hands to the heavens and asked, "Is not enough enough?" But she maintains that nothing compares to losing Morgan--not the death of her parents, not the terror of living with cancer.

  "I still have no desire to get up in the morning," she says. "I have trouble getting through the day and going to sleep at night, because I'm haunted by what they did to my baby." But regardless of how bad it gets--including Rick's recent diagnosis of Type II diabetes and Loren's third back surgery--this medical transcriptionist., who works out of her home, is determined to find something good in each day.

  "I never ever said, 'I don't' deserve this,' because who is to say who deserves what? There's always somebody worse off than you are," says Susan. "Instead, I ask, 'What am I supposed to learn this time?' Then, I semi-raise my sword to this dragon of adversity in my life and say, 'I acknowledge you for what you are. Now I'm gong out to the garden and dig a hole.' Each time I pull weeds, pick a flower, or trim trees, I try to look for something positive, even if I don't see it.'"

  Prayer Pause: Lord, sometimes I just don't know what You're up to. Haven't I borne more than my share? I'm so frustrated with everything that keeps happening. Teach me what I do not understand. Show me what I can't see. In the meantime, let Your strength course through y veins so I can crawl out of bed tomorrow and get through the day.

There are times in everyone's life
when something constructive is born out of adversity ...
When things seem so bad that you've got
to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it.


60. Looking around to see how far I have come

Set up road signs; put up guideposts.
Mark well the path by which you came.
--Jeremiah 31:21

  Jars filled with pieces of broken beach glass adorn Maggie's kitchen counter. The pieces vary in texture, size, and color, with dark blue glass being the rarest. Some are smooth and sanded. Others are crusted with barnacles. Maggie's favorites are the cracked tops and bottoms of bottles. She says the broken glass awakens memories of the ocean--the sound of waves pounding the shore and the taste of salt in the air. "I'm reminded that beauty comes in different sizes and textures," she says. "You realize that even glass chips, pottery shards, and puzzle pieces have value, especially after you feel like your life has broken into a million pieces."

  After her twenty-three-year marriage ended, Maggie, who is a teacher with a masters in educational administration, started driving to the coast to think. As she walked alone on the beach, she found a sense of rhythm and continuity. She discovered a primitive peeling away of layers--the expectations and suppositions that don't' have any real meaning--and a getting to the core of things. Maggie credits her friend, Linda, who recently died of ovarian cancer, as the one who sparked her interest in collecting beach glass.

  Over time, Maggie's beach visits expanded to territory up and down the California and Oregon coastline. The farther she ventured, the greater her confidence. Two days after her daughter married, she flew to New York, treating herself to the theater and dinners, tours of Liberty Island and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and leisurely strolls through Central Park.

  "The wedding was the first time I had spent all day with my ex-husband since our divorce a year earlier," says Maggie. "This trip was my reward for having made it through that day. I also needed something else to look forward to and to know that I could put it together all by myself."

  Today Maggie realizes that she has journeyed far from the years she spent in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship with a man who also physically beat her. She says she is now doing the things her ex-husband would never do or allow her to do. Four more times she has traveled by herself to New York City. She holds season tickets to the San Francisco Symphony. She also took out a mortgage on a townhouse, refinanced her car, and made a major purchase from an art gallery in Carmel, "just for fun without asking anyone's permission"--a two-foot bronze statute of a ballerina that now welcomes friends into her living room. "After I began sharing with people again, my classroom aide taught me to fly a kite, and now I've taught my grandson," she says. "I have finally claimed a life that fits me."

  As Maggie looks back on her life, she knows where she got her tenacity from--her own mother. Rose was widowed at age fifty four, three days before Christmas. Maggie, who was in her late twenties at the time, says her mother told her and her two sisters that their dad was not able to do any shopping that year but he had put some money aside. She decided he would have been happy if they all went to Disneyland on Christmas day instead of sitting around mourning. "I've always admired her for doing that," says Maggie.

  In the years that followed, Rose accepted employment with the county government and eventually retired; then, traveled; and today works for the YMCA, where she has been the past fifteen years. "She's an incredible woman. Most of her peers are gone," says Maggie. "She's in her mid eighties now and she's learning the computer."

  Whether you are like Rose, learning new skills at eighty, or like Maggie, finally claiming a life that fits you, it is never too late to be what you might have been. As you look back on your own life and see how far you have come, don't be embarrassed by your brokenness. Let it remind you that beauty comes in different textures, sizes, and colors--and that your life still has value regardless of your age or situation (Isaiah 54:11-14).

  Prayer Pause: Thank you, Lord, for being with me in the past. I know that each experience I have been through has made me a wiser, more tenderhearted woman.

What's past is prologue.
--William Shakespeare



Section 1

Emotional Moments Meant for Wholehearted Embracing
1 This is not how I planned my life
2 Okay, I'm in the tunnel; so where's the light?
3 Charting my own course through the pain
4 Taking time to honor the loss and myself
5 I want to do more than get by
6 Dreaming of chocolate
7 God, tightly hold me in Your arms of mercy.

Section 2

Mind-Boggling Moments That Force Me to Stop and Refocus
8 But I can't concentrate
9 I think I am losing my mind
10 Remembering what was
11 Wishing for what might have been
12 To much ... too soon
13 That one thing I must do today
14 Sovereign Lord, please order my day.

Section 3

Nurturing Moments for Accepting My Body's Limitations
15 Giving myself permission to ...
16 Leaving the dusting 'til dawn
17 Getting the upper hand on stress
18 Creating minute vacations just for me
19 Finding the slow, still person inside
20 Getting over the guilt about relaxing
21 Jesus, please take this load off my feet!

Section 4

Soul-searching Moments When I Am Honest With God
22 Is God on vacation, or what?
23 Lately, I don't want to read my Bible
24 Asking, "Why Me? How come now?"
25 So God works everything for good, huh?
26 Those times when it's tough to praise Him
27 Faith to doubt and still believe God is really there
28 Almighty God, meet me in this very hour.

Section 5

Pivotal Moments Sandwiched Between Solitary and Ordinary Days
29 After the mourners leave
30 When friends don't understand
31 Sitting alone in the pew
32 Accepting my vulnerability
33 Hearing the sound of my own voice
34 Forever changed by loss
35 Lord, with You beside me I can do this.

Section 6

Unavoidable Moments for Sorting the Past and Savoring the Present
36 The priceless family photos
37 Precious trinkets and that wedding album
38 Those birthdays and death days
39 Anniversaries--past, present, future
40 Thanksgiving--the grit about gratitude
41 Christmas--breaking with the traditional
42 God, thanks for what was and what is yet to be.

Section 7

Daring Moments When I Face My Fears
43 Anybody seen that knight on a white horse?
44 Examining my expectations
45 Daring to resuscitate dreams
46 Rediscovering my worth
47 Do you think I could love and trust again?
48 Sending my anxiety on a vacation
49 Lord, stay with me through this fear.

Section 8

Decisive Moments That Fuel Change and Clarify My Perspective
50 I didn't deserve this
51 Why do my friends lead such charmed lives?
52 How anger keeps me stuck
53 Bitter is not a place I want to be
54 Realizing the past is no longer an option
55 Willing myself to forgive so I may heal
56 Father, help me learn to let go.

Section 9

Elastic Moments for Reaching Up and Stretching Out
57 Finding a three-o-clock-in-the-morning friend
58 Joining up and joining in
59 Noticing angels in my midst
60 Looking around to see how far I have come
61 Table for one, please
62 Discovering a resilience I never knew
63 Jesus, how does anybody make it without You?

Section 10

Spirited Moments for Traveling Lighter and Trusting More
64 Accepting what is and improving on it
65 Releasing what isn't anymore
66 Finding contentment--and liking it here
67 Choosing to see a rainbow in the rain
68 Seizing the life beyond the loss
69 Discovering my own reason to keep going
70 Father, how can I not trust You with what's ahead!

Section 11

Glorious Moments for Simply Celebrating Life
71 Graced by simple things
72 That man whistled at me!
73 Taking pleasure in what's whimsical
74 Sure feels good coming home to who I am
75 Is this really me giggling?
76 I believe I'm really going to be okay
77 Lord, I don't want to miss Your plan for me!

Section 12

Courageous Moments When I Risk Hoping Again
78 From this moment on ...
79 On my feet again
80 Standing tall
81 Looking forward
82 Striding onward
83 Risking more
84 God, grant me courage to plant my hope in You!



Copyright 2002 by Kari West
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